So you've finished your manuscript and can't wait to send it off. You've mastered your story, checked for typos, and decided which agents and publishers to contact. That just leaves one more step: formatting. However boring it may sound, correct formatting is essential for any prospective author. Read on for some basic how-tos and tips for formatting your manuscript.
Keep it Clean
Every aspect of your manuscript should be clean and professional. You don't want to forget the little things. For example, you can make an agent's life easier by naming your file with your manuscript's (working) title and your name. You won't want the first thing they see to be "IFINALLYFINISHED-14.docx." Make sure your manuscript no longer contains side notes or any other unnecessary text, too.
Try a Title Page
Include a title page in your manuscript. You'll want to type your manuscript's title in large font, and also add your name and other basic information about your book--such as word count and genre. The title page also allows you to add your contact information (email, phone number, etc.). Remember, the title page is the first impression you'll make, and it only takes a few minutes to perfect!
Consistency is Key
You'll want formatting to remain consistent across your manuscript. Don't change fonts and spacing from chapter to chapter. The basic formatting guidelines are 12 point font, double-spacing, standard margins (1-inch), chapter breaks, and proper paragraph indentation. These guidelines may vary across agents and publishers, so make sure you check their website for more information.
Don't Overdo Punctuation
Any reader will know most publishers prefer a book with the least number of exclamation points and ellipses as possible. If you find yourself overdoing these features, try and cut them down before sending off your manuscript. You don't want to distract your reader with gratuitous punctuation or italics.
Don't Forget Dialogue
Dialogue formatting varies from book to book, but you'll want to remain consistent in your manuscript. Whatever methodology you choose, make sure it's easy to read. Don't give your readers any reason to be confused.
Use Your Resources
Finally, know that there are countless blogs and podcasts dedicated to helping writers get published. See what various industry professionals and seasoned authors recommended for manuscript formatting. At the end of the day, you'll want to do as the publisher or agent says. Give them every reason to love your manuscript, and that includes formatting!
By Sydney Meve, Intern
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